Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness

Overview


A New York Times bestseller when it appeared in 1989, Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind was universally hailed as a marvelous survey of modern physics as well as a brilliant reflection on the human mind, offering a new perspective on the scientific landscape and a visionary glimpse of the possible future of science. Now, in Shadows of the Mind, Penrose offers another exhilarating look at modern science as he mounts an even more powerful attack on artificial intelligence. But perhaps more important, in this ...
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Overview


A New York Times bestseller when it appeared in 1989, Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind was universally hailed as a marvelous survey of modern physics as well as a brilliant reflection on the human mind, offering a new perspective on the scientific landscape and a visionary glimpse of the possible future of science. Now, in Shadows of the Mind, Penrose offers another exhilarating look at modern science as he mounts an even more powerful attack on artificial intelligence. But perhaps more important, in this volume he points the way to a new science, one that may eventually explain the physical basis of the human mind.
Penrose contends that some aspects of the human mind lie beyond computation. This is not a religious argument (that the mind is something other than physical) nor is it based on the brain's vast complexity (the weather is immensely complex, says Penrose, but it is still a computable thing, at least in theory). Instead, he provides powerful arguments to support his conclusion that there is something in the conscious activity of the brain that transcends computation--and will find no explanation in terms of present-day science. To illuminate what he believes this "something" might be, and to suggest where a new physics must proceed so that we may understand it, Penrose cuts a wide swathe through modern science, providing penetrating looks at everything from Turing machines (computers programmed from artificial intelligence) to the implications of Godel's theorem maintaining that conscious thinking must indeed involve ingredients that cannot adequately be stimulated by mere computation. Of particular interest is Penrose's extensive examination of quantum mechanics, which introduces some new ideas that differ markedly from those advanced in The Emperor's New Mind, especially concerning the mysterious interface where classical and quantum physics meet. But perhaps the most interesting wrinkle in Shadows of the Mind is Penrose's excursion into microbiology, where he examines cytoskeletons and microtubules, minute substructures lying deep within the brain's neurons. (He argues that microtubules--not neurons--may indeed be the basic units of the brain, which, if nothing else, would dramatically increase the brain's computational power.) Furthermore, he contends that in consciousness some kind of global quantum state must take place across large areas of the brain, and that it within microtubules that these collective quantum effects are most likely to reside.
For physics to accommodate something that is as foreign to our current physical picture as is the phenomenon of consciousness, we must expect a profound change--one that alters the very underpinnings of our philosophical viewpoint as to the nature of reality. Shadows of the Mind provides an illuminating look at where these profound changes may take place and what our future understanding of the world may be.

A visionary glimpse of the possible future of science by one of the world's leading physicists. Penrose points toward a new science that may eventually explain the physical basis of the mind--and introduces new ideas on the mysterious interface where classical and quantum physics meet.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[Roger Penrose is] one of the greatest mathematical physicists alive....A work of breathtaking scope and richness....One certainly comes away from the book exhilarated by new metaphysical vistas."--The Wall Street Journal

"Provocative."--American Scientist

"Penrose reveals several worlds that are normally very hard to see but that thanks to his guidance are thrilling to imagine."--The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195106466
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 385,839
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 6.06 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Penrose is the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematic at the University of Oxford. He is the author of The Emperor's New Mind, which was a New York Times bestseller and was awarded the UK's 1990 COPUS Prize for science writing. In 1988, he received the internationally prestigious Wolf Prize for physics, shared with Stephen Hawking, for their joint contribution to our understanding of the universe.

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Table of Contents

Notes to the reader
Prologue 1
Pt. I Why We Need New Physics to Understand the Mind: The Non-Computability of Conscious Thought
1 Consciousness and computation 7
2 The Godelian case 64
3 The case for non-computability in mathematical thought 127
Pt. II What New Physics We Need to Understand the Mind: The Quest for a Non-Computational Physics of Mind
4 Does mind have a place in classical physics? 213
5 Structure of the quantum world 237
6 Quantum theory and reality 307
7 Quantum theory and the brain 348
8 Implications? 393
Epilogue 423
Bibliography 425
Index 447
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2005

    A thought-provoking book

    My favorite Penrose book! Though probably totally off-base, it was a fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2001

    A BOOK FOR SERIOUS THINKERS

    THESE BOOKS ( THE EMPERSOR'S NEW MIND AND SHADOWS OF THE MIND ) ARE A PECULIAR LESSON BROUGHT FROM ONE OF THE BEST MIND OF THE PLANET ON HOW LOGIC AND KNOWLEDGE MAY BE MERGED TO FIND NEW INSIGHTS . I RECOMMEND THE READING TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS , FRESHMEN , SCIENTIST INVOLVED WITH A.I AND ANYONE ( GRADUATE TOO ) WHO SEEKS A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF HOW LOGIC MAY BE APPLIED TO SCIENCE . I REGARD THESE BOOKS AS MILESTONE , A SERIOUS AND CRISTAL CLEAR EXPLANATION NOT JUST ABOUT LIMITS OF CONTEMPORARY PHYSICS BUT OF THE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE ITSELF, SUCH REMARKABLE WORKS THAT EVERYONE WHO CARE ABOUT HUMAN UNDERSTANDING SHOULD BENEFICT FROM .

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